Has anyone used this service to plan a trip to Cuba? How was your experience?
I am a seasoned traveler. I have never used a service before. I decided to try ViaHero as well. AND I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED THEM!!
We missed a flight due to weather, and were delayed one day...we had 4 Cubans looking for us, who all went way out their way to help. Aside from the frustrations of the missed flight, their Amistad was a beautiful way to start the trip. Our hero Saily rescheduled everything, at our request, to make up for the lost day. At no charge. It would have taken me hours.
Could I have done this myself? Obviously! But my time is worth more than $75 for the HOURS she spent fine tuning our trip. (And you are not going to get another week for $75, not even in Cuba!) Since we had only a week there, she helped me to get the most of my time. Which is the whole point, isn't it?
The pittance she earned will help support her family for more time than most would like to know. Via Hero may not be perfect, but they are providing earning opportunities that did not exist for their staff before.
They don't promise to make your trip legal, but they sure as hell know a whole lot more than I do. It is frustrating to me that those who don't want to use this type of service are so critical of those of us who have used them. Perhaps they did make a mistake...doesn't mean that we are less for using them. And it doesn't mean they should get a second chance.
I loved Via Hero and will use them again!
you are missing the whole point here. ViaHero, along with dozens and dozens of other travel services, and groups have found a great opportunity to offer services to Americans, who are not able, or do not want to bother with research, and want someone to help them. ( let's not even talk about the tour companies that are taking advantage of the confusion, and rip Americans off, by misleading them into thinking that talking a guided tour is now the only legal way to go..and to add insult charge ridiculous over the top prices. )
Anyone has a right to establish a business, they just don't have a right to advertise said business on TA.
Via Hero has been busted out, many times, planting shills and fake posts on the forum, and yet, continue to do so........
If you want to spend your money of what I think is an unscrupulous company, who even on their page, mislead folks, then you go right ahead.......no one is stopping you, or telling you how to spend your money.....
but we will continue to advice folks as we see fit...
Man, 175.00 bucks , that is a whole lot of rum money !!!
I respect your preference to research/plan your own trip and applaud the fact that you have the time to do so. I understand that you feel companies such as ViaHero are not necessary, and are upset by some things that have happened on TA. I get that point, quite loudly.
You know, Joann, we are so fortunate! We live in a world where there is so much opportunity: we can each choose to travel any way we choose, from homogenized all-inclusives to the grittiest local hostel, and everything in between. Some people need that security net for travel, some people think I am crazy for traveling the way I do! We need to celebrate our differences, embrace them, learn from each other, be glad that we all do not travel the same!
I am grateful that TA can offer reviews for us on businesses like ViaHero. I posted the original question to start this thread, and wanted to share my experience as promised. I am not a shill. This is not a fake post. And I'm sorry that you feel that way.
I'm just a fellow traveler, offering my thoughts.
judy, Where did I imply that your post was fake ??? I was actually referring to @68.........I have been on this forum for awhile now, and am pretty good at catching post with a motive, shills, etc.......
Trip Advisor has the rule of no advertisement or self promotion for a reason...... Imaginewhat these forums would be like if they allowed it......pages and pages of non stop advertising, of tour groups, agencies, guides, etc......Why should one group get a pass ????
And again, I do have to say it one more time, for others that are reading this, if you feel you need a group like this,or to follow a tour, great, everyone travels different, and has different comfort levels...........
But they need to pay for there advertising, like everyone else has to, it is not allowed on the forum,,,,,,,,,
Just returned from a 9-day trip to Cuba that was planned through ViaHero. Here's the review I posted on their site: Pepe helped us put together a wonderful trip, saved us a lot of time, and was there to help us when things inevitably didn't go as planned. Working with him over six weeks, he put together a customized itinerary, including some unique ideas that we would not have found on our own. He arranged transportation in private taxis for trips to Vinales and Cienfuegos/Trinidad,/Santa Clara, and even got us a last minute replacement when one of the drivers couldn't make it due to a problem with his car (not that uncommon given how old they are!). He also lined us up with a friend who gave us a great orientation walking tour on our first couple days in Havana. Before going, he told us about a jazz festival scheduled while we were in Havana and when we couldn't get tickets online, he waited in line to get us third row center seats at an amazing concert of The Buena Vista Social Club, a highlight of our trip! As we left Havana a second time, Pepe sent his son (a doctor) to introduce our driver from Havana to Cienfuegos, just to make sure that everything went smoothly. Pepe made sure that our drivers understood the places that we wanted to stop and see along the way to our destinations, making the most of our travel and breaking up the bumpy trips. He also left us time to explore on our own, including taking some excellent Airbnb experiences. Although the process of putting together the plan took longer than we expected and involved some work on our part (including checking out and arranging Airbnbs based on his recommendations), Pepe came through over and over again to ensure that we had a wonderful nine-day trip that minimized the time that we had to spend making arrangements, and maximized our activities while we were there. Our time was filled with meaningful interactions with Cuban people, just the right amount of sightseeing, amazing music, art and dance, good food, and many memorable experiences. We came away with an appreciation for Cuban history and culture, and the challenges of everyday life. Pepe is a wonderful, caring person who really went out of his way for us. We recommend him highly if you are going to Havana!
I'm planning a trip to Cuba in mid-March 2018. I am from the US and am nervous about putting together a full-time itinerary with activities that are definitively "Support for the Cuban People". We are going to stay at an AirBnB and are so excited to explore Havana and eat and drink and meet new people, but I don't know how to document that! Does anyone have any recommendations for how to document activities that are "Support for the Cuban People"? I work full time and have a part time job and am trying to do as much research as I can; ViaHero seems helpful, especially since it seems like every TA forums I have seen is mostly a couple people having an argument lol any help would be greatly appreciated!
Those guys have been caught out several times breaking the rules here. If they can’t even follow the rules on an Internet forum, I wouldn’t rely on them to tell me how to follow the rules in Cuba.
No-one has been required to produce any records by OFAC. Just keep a note of what you do. If you become the first in a million to be asked for your records, you can then fill out the details.
I have a question for those of you who have USED Via Hero (Those individuals who keep saying the same things on this thread about VH, whether it's that VH broke rules and tried to advertise here, or comments that tell me what I already know - if I put the time in, I can do this research on my own, or you think VH uses "scare tactics" in commenting on travel restrictions for US citizens, please quit clogging this thread with your repetitive comments already).
1) I am a solo traveler. My "hero" suggests using Viazul for all my in-country domestic travel. Other posters here have used private taxis arranged by VH but they weren't solo travelers. For solo travelers, did you use Viazul for transportation city to city or something else, if so, what was it, and either way, how was it?
2) By not paying for a lot in advance as you might with a tour, did you have to carry a lot of cash and how did you feel about that? (I'm US citizen so don't have a credit card that will work in Cuba. Kinda nervous about that.)
3) Did you use ViaHero's $25 or $35 daily rate? Either way, if there were problems in country, who did you contact (your "hero" or someone else who works for VH) and how did that work out?
4) I'm also nervous about difficulty accessing internet, especially since my Spanish is bad for talking on phone. I'm thinking of putting a Cuban SIM card in my phone (like I've done in other countries) for phone and internet access, as described here. https:/…
Any advice or comments?
I look forward to hearing from those to whom this question is posted. Gracias.